The Only Solution to Our Economic Problems: The Oneness of Humanity

Many economists have pointed out the importance of global unity and cooperation in solving the ever-increasing economic crises of the world. But there has not been much change, and time is running out.
Time is running out for governments, economists, and policymakers to make a change to undo the economic miseries they have knowingly or unknowingly afflicted upon billions of people.
Our global economy is faced today with a wide range of critical issues — natural resources, the environment, migration and refugees, wars and disputes, climate change, communication and transportation, dire poverty, control of future viruses and diseases, and most importantly, the development of sustainable peace and harmony between people and nations.

How do we successfully deal with these important issues? Based on the Baha’i writings, the solution is for humanity to unite. In a speech he gave in Paris in 1911, Abdu’l-Baha said:

… direct your thoughts towards the unity of mankind; that you will never harm your neighbours nor speak ill of any one; that you will respect the rights of all men, and be more concerned for the interests of others than for your own.

This suggestion — the unification of humanity — isn’t just a fancy slogan. It represents the only actual solution for humanity’s long-term survival, for implementing remedies that could rectify our political, economic, and environmental crises.
Personally, I’ve sounded that very same message for decades, but I recently remembered the story of a father and his sons, which illustrates the principle beautifully. Some of you may know the story. It goes like this:
An old Man had several Sons who were constantly fighting with each other. He used every means to persuade them to stop their contentions and unite, to no effect. At last, he did the following: He asked his Sons to come and also bring a small bundle of sticks and then told them to try to break it with all their strength. They all tried, but without any success, for the sticks were closely bound together, and the force of one of them couldn’t break them. After this, the father ordered the bundle to be opened and gave each of his Sons a single stick while asking them to try to break it. This they did with ease and soon snapped every stick. The father then addressed them, saying: O, my Sons, behold the power of unity!

In a speech he gave in Paris, Abdu’l-Baha explained the benefits of unity for a single home or for the whole world:

“Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make, how they prosper in the world. Their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquillity, they are secure, their position is assured, they come to be envied by all. Such a family but addeth to its stature and its lasting honour, as day succeedeth day. And if we widen out the sphere of unity a little to include the inhabitants of a village who seek to be loving and united, who associate with and are kind to one another, what great advances they will be seen to make, how secure and protected they will be. Then let us widen out the sphere a little more, let us take the inhabitants of a city, all of them together: if they establish the strongest bonds of unity among themselves, how far they will progress, even in a brief period and what power they will exert. And if the sphere of unity be still further widened out, that is, if the inhabitants of a whole country develop peaceable hearts, and if with all their hearts and souls they yearn to cooperate with one another and to live in unity, and if they become kind and loving to one another, that country will achieve undying joy and lasting glory. Peace will it have, and plenty, and vast wealth.”

National governments, despite their efforts, have failed to accept that nationally-based solutions for solving the planet’s economic problems ignore the fundamental fact that no single country can solve all its economic problems alone. We live in an interdependent world — which means we need a global approach to solving global problems.

Every day, nations struggle with limited success in making their economies answer the pressing questions of poverty and inequality present in both capitalist and socialist systems. The ingredient missing in their process — the lack of vision of seeing each other as members of one human family — makes their limited solutions ineffective. Without this vision and with the logic of profit at any cost being a system’s only goal, the problems inevitably accumulate.
Let’s face it — our economic problems are due to a lack of human values and morality in our economic systems, policies, and activities. We’ve tried to divorce economics from the human spirit, and that approach simply doesn’t work. As a result, the world’s problems become more prominent.
The solution must be a united front despite all the differences between countries. This will not be simple or easy, but it will work. Abdu’l-Baha acknowledged the differences and difficulties in achieving unity, and suggested a solution to overcome them:

“It is self-evident that humanity is at variance. Human tastes differ; thoughts, native lands, races and tongues are many. The need of a collective center by which these differences may be counterbalanced and the people of the world be unified is obvious. Consider how nothing but a spiritual power can bring about this unification, for material conditions and mental aspects are so widely different that agreement and unity are not possible through outer means. It is possible, however, for all to become unified through one spirit, just as all may receive light from one sun. Therefore, assisted by the collective and divine center which is the law of God and the reality of His Manifestation, we can overcome these conditions until they pass away entirely and the races advance.”

Suppose we don’t change our attitudes and unite to solve the problems. In that case, the problems will accumulate. Without solutions, they will likely reach the stage of social unrest, when the poor and underprivileged will find no other way of economic survival except fighting for it. That should be a warning to governments and the rich to change their mindsets and start seeing fellow humans as members of the same family, finding ways to eliminate their economic miseries. This resonates with the Baha’i teachings. In The Baha’i World, Volume 4, Abdu’l-Baha said, “The secrets of the whole economic question are Divine in nature, and are concerned with the world of the heart and spirit.”

Clearly, we are stronger and much more effective when we combine our energies and resources to solve humanity’s problems. The Baha’i teachings assure us that unity and the oneness of humanity will happen, but sadly, it may only happen as our last chance of survival in a devastated world. I hope and pray that it happens instead due to humanity’s spiritual awakening to the Creator’s divine solutions.